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8 December 2005

Baby Centre

Visit a baby centre in Melbourne, Victoria.

TRUDY WOODWARD, MOTHER: I feel like I have no sense of help, I probably would have gone, you know and then pretty much downhill and then where would the family be?

FREYA MICHIE, REPORTER: When a baby won't sleep, new parents can be left crying for help.

TRUDY WOODWARD: With sleep deprivation you feel like you're quietly going mad. Looking after three kids I think I needed a bit of help with this one.

FREYA MICHIE: This week Trudy Woodward and her eight-month-old son checked into an early parenting centre for three nights. Trudy is learning parenting strategies for young Liam.

TRUDY WOODWARD: I guess frustrated and angry that I couldn't kind of cope, you know, that I couldn't sort it out myself.

FREYA MICHIE: Trudy and Liam are among the 2,000 families who seek help each year from the Tweddle Early Parenting Centre in Footscray. It's one of only three publicly funded early parenting centres in Victoria.

But Tweddle is in the midst of a funding crisis. The centre has been running at a deficit for five years and is poised to cut services.

After 85 years, Tweddle is about to cut its weekend overnight stay program. But weekends are often the only time fathers are free to participate.

Management says the cuts might not stop at weekends, it may be forced to introduce fees and increase the waiting list.

ANDREW RICE: There she was.

LESLEY YATES: Instead of a four to six week wait list which is totally unacceptable for a crisis service, we'll blow out to a ten week.

TRUDY WOODWARD: I waited probably about eight weeks for that and, I mean, I'm very thankful to be here but it's a very long wait especially when, you know, you're right at that point - when you call, you're right, that's when you need it.

ANN HINDELL: There's a delay there and for the parent it can either escalate the crisis that they're experiencing or it makes them feel that nobody's listening to them.

FREYA MICHIE: Tweddle says there's been no funding to meet the growing demand for its services. It says it's dealing with a record number of calls largely because these days many new parents are more isolated and less likely to have the support of an extended family.

ANDREW RICE: You're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

TRUDY WOODWARD: I'd definitely say my confidence level for looking after Liam has been improved totally and just my enjoyment too I think. I can see that getting more sleep will definitely mean that I enjoy it much more.

LESLEY YATES: We want to understand why it is that a service like ours which has high demand, which is highly effective, we can prove that with the research we undertake, why are we scratching for dollars? How does that work?

story notes

When people say that things are going downhill, they mean that they are getting worse.

sleep deprivation
Deprivation is a lack of something. Itís when you do not have the things you require for a happy life. Sleep deprivation is not having enough sleep.
The noun deprivation comes from the verb deprive. To deprive someone is to take something important away from them.
The adjective is deprived.

Example: She's a sleep-deprived mother.

If you are frustrated, you feel discouraged or annoyed because you canít do something you want to do.

Cope means to deal with or handle something. If you cope with a situation, then you handle it well.

in the midst of
In the midst of means in the middle of an event or situation.

funding crisis
A crisis is a stressful or difficult situation. In this case, itís a funding crisis. The centre doesnít have enough funds, or money.

Deficit is another word for shortage. It describes an amount that is less than it should be. The centre has been running on less money than it needs for 5 years.


overnight stay
An overnight stay means to stay and sleep in a place for a night.

Participate means take part.

Here cuts refers to reductions, or the things that have to be stopped.

introduce fees
Here, to introduce means to put into use for the first time. And a fee is an amount of money paid for a service.
So to introduce fees means to begin to ask people to pay for the service. In the past, the centre has offered its services for free.

waiting list
A waiting list is a list of people waiting for a service. People who have asked for something that isnít available yet have their names put on a list and can get what they want in turn.

blow out
To blow out is to increase dramatically in a way that is not desired.

Example: The cost of the building has blown out to over a million dollars.
For examples you can listen to and more meanings of the phrasal verb blow out, follow the link.
more information: blow out

parenting centres
A parenting centre provides a range of services to help new parents.